the power of faxing protocols

Finding out what is happening within the Shenzhen government is difficult not only because of censorship restrictions, but also because of protocols regulating the circulation of “documents (文件)”. Specifically, no documents are are sent virtually. Instead, documents are faxed from Beijing or Guangzhou to a centralized distribution center in the Shenzhen government that receives the faxed documents, makes copies, and then delivers them to relevant ministries and bureaus. This protocol follows for lower-ranking governments as well, so Shenzhen faxes to its constituent Districts which in turn fax to their Street Offices. There are, of course, different levels of government faxes. Some are simply copies of directives or activities, while others are actually official policy and require stamps (such as the copy of a Sichuan document, above). Continue reading